On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us a little bit about your role and how you got here. (what inspired you to start a martech company)
The very idea of FreshMail was not mine – it came to life in Chris’s head – my business partner. In 2006 when we started with this project we saw that on the Polish market we had several players who offered very poor solutions. We knew that this was a perfect moment to develop an email marketing tool that would be easy to use on the one hand, and on the other hand, it would allow for advanced communication with subscribers. We started to work with FreshMail in this manner.
MTS: Given the massive proliferation of marketing technology, how do you see the martech market evolving over the next few years?
It’s worth to look at martech market evolution from several different angles.
First of all, I think it will be very difficult to create one software that is a holy grail for marketers. Such a tool will be in many respects not perfect – as if you have something to fit everything, it usually serves nothing. I believe that in the next few years, marketing technology providers will, and perhaps should, focus on creating efficient ecosystems. Such native technologies will integrate data between different systems and enable customisation with API to integrate a variety of business solutions.
Secondly, we are already observing the access to big data technology becoming relatively easy. Many marketers will focus on developing their platforms with AI. Of course there is still a long way to go, but we can already utilise advanced personalisation with recommendation systems and other predictive tools. Unfortunately, at this point there is also a negative side. In 2018, a new EU law on privacy and data protection can significantly reduce the possibilities of data processing to predict future behavior of potential consumers. How will it work out in reality? Hard to say, however it is definitely worth keeping in mind.
MTS: What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?
Definitely the desire to implement AI, or at least to create advanced personalization tools based on automatic analysis of users past behaviors. In my opinion, despite the fact that we’ve been talking about Big Data for several years already, it’s just now that we can say that this technology is beginning to become an interpretation of market changes. It is finally available to a wide range of marketers and the cost of it has fallen dramatically.
MTS: What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make marketing technology work?
The biggest challenge isn’t the technology, but the people who will control it. It is said that for every dollar invested in analytical tools we need to invest $10 in the right person who will be able to interpret this data. These costs won’t change for a long time. Marketers should be reaching out to people who understand how technology works and are able to leverage technology to get the best results. History proves this concept works. When Garry Kasparov organized the extreme chess competition it turned out that teams with the most powerful computers didn’t get the best results. The best results were achieved with teams that combined artificial intelligence (less advanced) with human intellect.
MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?
Honestly, I do not have the time to look at other startups on a daily basis. Not because they can not inspire me – I just think that my time can be better invested. I prefer to do face to face at various events or conferences to talk to specific people and get answers to questions that are not usually public. In the media we can usually read about the successes of different companies and I personally prefer to read about the failures and problems that businesses have. Such information is best re-captured in backstage talks on various types of events.
MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
In 2017 we focus on even more accurate use of data on our current and potential customers. We are currently building a data-flow ecosystem enabling everyone in the company to know exactly what piece of information comes from a particular user. It seems trivial, but unfortunately it is not. For me, the goal for 2017 is to get rid of as many data silos as possible between different departments in the company and enable marketing and sales to work better and more efficiently together.
MTS: Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success)
FreshMail fits the needs of both small businesses and large corporations. It is difficult to point out one target group on which we focus. Key metrics of our campaigns are always the number of registered accounts and the conversion rate from free account to a paid account. The cost of registration itself is less important to us – we have clients who have been with us since 2008 – so in the long run we always benefit.
Another important indicator is customer satisfaction which we try to measure on a continuous basis. This is often very descriptive and gives us a chance to better tailor our services to market needs.
I also measure Churn Rate which we try to minimize every time. As well as CAC, LTV or MRR, which do not directly affect the operational processes, rather serving as road signs to strategic plans.
MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?
We are working to be part of this world as I believe that AI can significantly increase the viability of marketers. At this point we already use AI mechanisms to detect spammers before they send out the first campaign. Thanks to this, we are able to increase email deliverability to the ones who follow the rules of permission marketing. We also work on the use of AI technology to better profile subscribers’ needs so they enjoy every email they receive from our customers. This is still in its early stages where we have selected several clients and tested our solutions with them.
This Is How I Work
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
On a daily basis I use many apps that make my everyday work easier. Of course, each of them probably has a substitute – better or worse. Anyway, I can’t imagine working without these:
Evernote – where I keep most of the reference materials and I make quick notes like answers to this interview;).
Pocket – where I store everything I want to read later.
Gmail – my main inbox plus plugins like boomerangmail or powerbot. When I’m travelling without good Internet access I use Postbox. And the whole G Suite of packages in the company.
Dropbox – to store all my stuff 😉
I use Trello to manage my business workflow and tasks. When it comes to productivity outside business, I’m open to trying things and have had a go with Wunderlist and Omnifocus. Let’s say I’m still looking there.
MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
I make my living from sending emails and this is what I hacked best. A few years ago I read about an inbox management method created by Tony Heish, founder of Zappos. He recommends deactivating automatic prompts from inbox and logging on only at certain time of the day. As a result you don’t get distracted by the constant flow of emails (I get approximately 400 emails per day) I manage to answer all my emails within 48 hours, and I have a calm mind.
The second hack that helps me be more productive is to focus on one area of my responsibility on a given day. Thursdays are my Managerial Days when I handle meetings with managers and do forecasts, etc. On Tuesdays I try to devote 100% of my time to business development. Maybe for some it seems strange but I personally believe that nothing bad will happen if most topics wait a few days – making sure you take care of everything within a fixed time, of course.
MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
I personally gravitate towards the idea of reading business and fiction books alternately. Recently I tried to add to this with some books about parenting (my first son was born a few months ago). I recently finished reading “Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity” by Charles Duhigg and now I am taking a break from business reads with a fiction novel by Frank Herbert “Children of the Dune”. It’s a great study of the power of man and how badly conducted actions can destroy the most beautiful ideas.
I love audiobooks. This way I can consume more reading even when I lack the time. If the book is interesting enough I know I will come back to it and then I buy a paper copy. I’m taking notes and jumping between chapters. If the book is not available in audio audiobook I also tend to read ebooks on my kindle or iPad.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
There are several pieces that together have made me the person I am today and gave me the idea of who I want to be. First: be focused – every single day, on every task, do not distract yourself by immediately dealing with side-projects. Victory does not come easy, you have to constantly strive for it. You have to focus on doing things that are worth doing. And here comes the second one: be patient – patient in expecting a reward. Act and do not expect instant gratification. Slowly but peremptorily to the end. The last advice is about people who are always worth listening to and then reflect on. Even if you have a different opinion, it is worthwhile to find a moment and wonder why did they think what they thought. Such mental training allows you to expand your horizons incredibly.
MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
I want to believe that I can listen to people and draw appropriate conclusions. This allows me to understand the needs of my colleagues, customers and the market. This also allows me to be a better manager and makes me successful. And I have no problem with admitting to myself, or other people, that I have made a mistake. Usually I can find out quickly what I am doing wrong and make a quick correction. Of course listening alone is not enough – there must be an original desire to work, hard work – without it there is no success in the long run.
MTS: Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Tony Heish – founder of Zappos.
MTS: Thank you Pawel! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Pawel is the co-founder & managing director of FreshMail, an email marketing provider. FreshMail is a cloud based platform used by over 60,000 marketers of all sizes (including Neckermann, Timberland, Philips, WWF and Unicef) who send over 600,000,000 emails every month.
Our award winning platform empowers email marketers from beginner to advanced level with a set of cutting edge tools that stands us head and shoulders above the competition. With features such as an intuitive drag and drop template designer, auto-responders and marketing automation FreshMail gives you everything you need for success. Integrate analytics into your campaigns to properly measure the ROI of your efforts and utilise our extensive reports and A+B testing to work out your most effective strategy.
The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.